Coon Rapids Home tour showcases remodeled houses

Perfect weather brought crowds of people out for the city of Coon Rapids’ Home for Generations II program home remodeling tour Sunday afternoon, where six remodeled houses were showcased.

Home remodeling tour visitors to the John and Joan Wester home at 12545 Hummingbird St. NW Sunday checked out the living room addition at the residence. Photos by Peter Bodley
Home remodeling tour visitors to the John and Joan Wester home at 12545 Hummingbird St. NW Sunday checked out the living room addition at the residence. Photos by Peter Bodley

Kristin DeGrande, city neighborhood coordinator and Home for Generations II coordinator, was very pleased by the response by residents of the city and the remodeling work that has taken place.

“It was awesome the number of people that came out,” she said. “It was an excellent day.”

And from the people she talked with as well as those other city staff spoke with, it was clear that the majority that went on the tour were genuinely interested in getting ideas for remodeling projects in their own homes, not just for an afternoon out, according to DeGrande.

Visitors to individual homes on the tour ranged from a low of 234 at one house to a high of 441 at another for what DeGrande estimated at over 1,800 visits all told.

And not all were from Coon Rapids, DeGrande said. She met people from Ramsey, Blaine and Andover who read about the tour in the media and were interested in getting remodeling ideas for their own homes, she said.

The city, through its Housing and Redevelopment Authority, provides financial incentives and resources for homeowners to complete home remodeling projects valued at $35,000 or more.

To date, 15 homeowners have signed agreements with the city and 11 of those have completed their remodeling work, while another 50 are at some stage in the process, according to DeGrande.

But in the last three weeks with the advent of spring and promotion of the home remodeling tour, the city has received a lot of inquiries about the program, DeGrande said. “We are expecting a surge in applications,” she said.

In advance of Sunday’s tour of the six homes, the city sent mailings to all homeowners in the city encouraging them to see the valued-added improvements that have been made.

The homes on the tour were:

* 11510 Foley Blvd., owner Ellaura Ukofia, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, plus exterior work, to a 1979 split-entry house. Contractor was Willet Remodeling & Construction.

* 991 121st Lane, owners Dan and Mary Sullivan, kitchen and bathroom remodeling to a 1980 split-entry house, plus a new patio. K2 Bath Design & Remodeling was the contractor.

* 12545 Hummingbird St., owners John and Joan Wester, living room addition, kitchen remodeling and back patio to a 1964 two-story house where the Westers have lived for 35 years. Contractor was Cornerstone Construction.

* 13104 Xavis St., owners John and Jillian Haussner, finished lower level that doubles the living space, all new exterior work and energy improvements to a split-entry home, where the Haussners have lived for 10 years. Exterior work was done by Dave Darling Construction; the interior work by the homeowner.

Joan Wester (right) gives Shawna Cunningham (left) a tour of the remodeled kitchen at her residence which was one of six remodeled houses that were part of the 2014 Coon Rapids Home Remodeling Tour Sunday.
Joan Wester (right) gives Shawna Cunningham (left) a tour of the remodeled kitchen at her residence which was one of six remodeled houses that were part of the 2014 Coon Rapids Home Remodeling Tour Sunday.

* 13256 Gladiola St., owners Joe and Beth Knudson, several room additions and a new garage to a 1959 walkout rambler which has doubled the size of the house. Legacy Property Solutions was the contractor, with interior work by the homeowner.

* 10648 Xavis St., owners Kevin and Annette Barker, kitchen and bathroom have been remodeled to make the house more accessible to a family member moving in, plus a spa-like bathroom addition to the basement. Stonehearth Remodeling was the contractor.

The Westers did not want to move from their 50-year-old home on Hummingbird Street because they like the neighborhood and their neighbors, according to Joan Wester.

But they wanted to upgrade their home and created a full remodeled kitchen with more natural light, granite countertops and extra seating, plus an addition to the living room complete with built-in cabinets and stone fireplace.

There is also full basement under the living room addition with a roughed in bathroom for future construction, Wester said.

A newspaper story brought the city’s Home for Generations II program to their attention and they decided to take advantage of it for their remodeling project. The only glitch was a delay in the cabinet making because of the economy, Wester said.

But the experience of working with the city was very positive, she said.

According to Ukofia, she purchased her home on Foley Boulevard from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012, exactly two years ago Sunday, knowing updates and repairs were needed. It was vacant at the time, Ukofia said.

Taking out walls which separated the kitchen from the eating and living rooms was one the major changes Ukofia made to create more space and seating for family gatherings, she said.

With two daughters and eight granddaughters visiting her regularly on weekends, taking out the walls has enabled her when she is in the kitchen to stay in contact with her family as well as allow many different activities to take place in one area, Ukofia said.

The former yellow kitchen has been remodeled to feature a center island granite countertops and custom cabinets and the yellow look to the exterior is gone with new siding, shakes and stone, plus a new entryway, she said.

The city’s program, with its grants and financing options, was very important in her decision to go ahead with the remodeling work, according to Ukofia.

“The program is very progressive, is a benefit to residents and has great selling points,” Ukofia said. “The whole process was very straightforward and staff was very helpful working through the process.”

Sara and Chris Roberts stopped by the Ukofia residence and spoke to her about the remodeling project. They are new residents of Coon Rapids and are looking to remodel the 1989 home into which they moved.

“It’s amazing,” Sara Roberts said of the remodeled home on Foley. “It looks like a new house.”

“We are getting a lot of good ideas and will definitely be contacting the city about taking part in the program.”

Dan and Mary Sullivan, 991 121st Lane, went to the May 30, 2013 open house at the Coon Rapids City Center that launched the Home for Generations II program. “We were just looking at that point,” said Mary Sullivan.

But they were faced with a decision of moving from their 1980 split-entry home or remodeling it, according to Sullivan, who has Parkinson’s disease and the stairs in the house are an issue. “We did not really want to move and I decided to include the stairs in my life rather than let them run it,” Sullivan said.

After meeting with four contractors, the Sullivans selected one and decided to move forward in September and are “absolutely” pleased with the results, she said. “We have invested in the city and it has invested in us,” Sullivan said.

The remodeling features an open concept living room, dining room and kitchen, for which a wall was removed. Birch custom cabinets and a tiered countertop for an additional eating area were added to the kitchen.

In addition, there are new hickory floors on the main level and a bathroom was remodeled with custom cabinets to increase storage.

Outside, a new patio was created in front of the house. “We want to embrace the neighborhood and our neighbors,” Sullivan said. “We like to sit outside in front of the house and having a patio will be more inviting to our neighbors.”

The patio work was done by A&D Creative Landscaping and Irrigation, LLC.

When the program started, the HRA budgeted $20,000, but because of its initial success, another $80,000 was added to the program last summer. DeGrande anticipates going back to the HRA for additional funding this summer, she said.

Home for Generations II is a follow-up to the original Home for Generations program, which began in 2009 during the housing slump to demonstrate how residents could remodel older-style homes in Coon Rapids to meet the needs of today’s families using modest budgets.

When the housing market started to rebound, the phase two program was started, offering financial incentives of grants up to $5,000 for eligible projects, plus building permit fee rebates and subsidized consultation with architects.

Project financing has also been available through the Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation, which offers up to $50,000 at a fixed interest rate of 4.5 percent.

Besides the $35,000 minimum value, project guidelines include adding living space or a major remodel of such areas of the house as the kitchen and bathroom, moving or removing walls to change the layout, finishing the basement or attic, constructing a covered front porch, exterior improvements and converting a garage into livable space.

The program requires participants to meet with an architect or designer to discuss and help plan the remodeling of the home. Money from the mortgage assistance foundation discounts the cost of this service.

The houses must be at least 20 years old, but there are no income limits to be eligible for the program.

For more information on the Home for Generations program, call DeGrande at 763-767-6517 or go on line to